Religious intolerance in Britain reversed

Scotland Yard said yesterday that a Muslim woman police who refused to shake hands with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at her passing-out ceremony would be dismissed if she did not "engage" with people as other officers do. Sir Ian Blair personally congratulated all 200 recruits at a ceremony in London last month, but shook hands with only 199 after the woman specifically requested that she should not be required to do so, apparently for religious reasons.

Now this is the kind of headline you read, and think about how society is becoming more dysfunctional every passing day. But nope. Then you read something of this sort,

Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said the "overwhelming majority" of practising Muslims would avoid physical contact with a member of the opposite sex unless they were closely related.

What? What kind of B.S is that? I have tons of friends who are practicing Muslims, and not one has issues. Fine, so I'm talking about people who are of Indian origin and live there too. But isn't it a bit ridiculous to accept that once you start living in the west, you become more apprehensive, and perhaps orthodox in your religious views?


Something to Say said...

my 2 cents on this is - we are living in such fragile, scarred times that we seem to want to bunch together just to feel safe. And then all these crazy ideas start popping around.
Islam does forbid physical contact - with unrelated opposite sex - but I think liberal minds have recommended the use of gloves to overcome this.

i have always found that those of us living in the west - are somehow more apprehensive and more orthodox than those living in India... really dont understand why? I mean we ought to be more open minded - after all we are interacting with a myriad of influences.....maybe its just our sense of inferiority that makes us so.

iz said...

@ something to say: I think it has something to do with the fact that when you live away from your country you begin to hold on much harder to things that remind us of home. Hence following traditions more fanatically might be a manifestation of that. Second generation expats end up carrying them on because of the way they are brought up by homesick parents.

Szerelem said...

ah, Iz stole my thoughts :P
I think its also one reason why europe is having so much trouble with muslim immigrants...well obviously for one their integration/assimilation policy is flawed but also its the second generation muslims who are becoming very radical

hedonistic hobo said...

it is true. his who drivel about the muslim brotherhood as well. a sunni can't stand a shiite and together they loathe the wahabbis but if the world listened to the al-qaeda and well 'the muslim brotherhood' you'd think being islamic is an over-arching and consummate identity.

as for fencing yourself in to your ghettosized world it's true. perhaps it's the contact with an outside world race that makes us retreat in to our shells. i guess it's the fear of losing your identity and then racism doesn't help the cause either. i didn't add this to my post on sexism and racism, i should have. but the indian groups here are remarkably racist. if i enter a shop with zivania they look right through him but are so much more cordial with me. and once i'd gone with a friend of mine from mali, the dude turns to me and says, 'yeh hapshi aapki dost hain?' %$$%&$#^@&@%!

hedonistic hobo said...

@Szerlem: Europe is also having problems because their conception of multiculturalism is fucked. Frankly the French had the 2005 riots coming. their attitudes towards Moroccans and Algerians is a pitiful. and the English, you know how i feel about them. they're the frigid race. and I'd find myself arguing for the third worldist view a lot more often because some of their misconceptions were just appalling.

Szerelem said...

yep, I agree with you on that. Fucked concept of multiculturalism and then that leads to silly ideas about secularism and assimilation. And as more as I love French culture and Paris it is very blatantly segregated. Really, it makes London seem like a heaven of multicultural love.

nevermind said...

Now this is really deep;) I think people have already answered your question about what's sometimes called 'the frozen diaspora' phenomenon. For further evidence, listen to the number of jockeys on Asian Radio stations trying to imitate Ameen Sayani.

I agree that if identities have to remain relevant and adaptive (rather than weighty, pathological, maladaptive burdens on yourself and everybody else) they have to be essentially flexible things. But the context in which generations before ours migrated to the West were far, far more inhospitable than ours, mind. In such situations, your identity/roots/kinship ties were often your ONLY strength. It was often the ONLY thing that stood between you and anomie/breakdown/failure.

And your question also brings us to a discussion the Punkster and I had a while ago (triggered by a post about a meeting with Tariq Ramadan)- where we faced a very Freudian dilemma, which is that, 'In any conversation between two people, there are actually six people in the room. The person you think you are, the person you actually are and the person your counterpart thinks you are. Likewise on the other side.' So now, who should adapt to who/what? Should the majority adapt to the minority? Or vice versa? Why? The English are probably one of the most genuinely courteous host nations in the world. And they appear to deal with it by adapting constantly. So, is there a limit to adaptation?

And India, being the classic multicultural template, is different. And that goes for Indians/Indian muslims and their adaptability.

Raindrop said...

Apparently, she did a safety training course that involved physical contact with men. Perhaps she had asked to be excused from this handshake because her family would be witnessing the event?

It makes absolutely no sense to me. If I were her boss, I'd sack her in a minute.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

This kind of behavior reminds me of Indians over here (in the yoo yess) indulging in overwhelming displays of religiosity while the very same desis wouldnt have even bothered to visit a temple while they were growing up in India. I wonder if it stems from plain old nostalgia for the motherland, or insecurities about not being "Indian" enough.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@STS - hmm, I wouldn't classify myself as someone whose feelings towards anything is affected by my geographical location. I might tone things down or pump them up in deference to say, local customs. But a feeling of inferiority? Nope, dunno what that means.

@iz, szerelem - I totally agree.. As far as I can think about it, the second generation is trying its best to stay in touch with their roots in an increasingly multicultural society - and I guess they do what they can to hang on.

@hobo - hehe, good point about islam there. but thats interesting - I thought I had similar ideas about the desi society in the west, but I thought it was flawed. so the question is - if most of us think the same way, who is that doesn't? are we talking about people in a different age bracket? but that argument is possibly shot down by the fact that its the second generation people who are getting that mindful of their religious customs. overtly so, perhaps.

as for your comments on paris - true. what i always find amusing, at the risk of sounding all high and mighty, is how often a caucasian will look down upon anyone who is not, considering themselves superior. now, i'm sure there're a lot of factors to blame, but i wonder how it still survives.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@nevermind - haha, glad you think this is deeper than the comment on time travel :)

So now, who should adapt to who/what? Should the majority adapt to the minority?

No, the point here is not to adapt to one of them. It is to accept the fact that you know and the other person knows, that you know (s)he knows about the personality triad we're talking about here. The question of a majority or a minority just doesn't arise here - the minute that variable is smashed into the middle of this equation, you're going to end up with nothing but misunderstandings :)

And India, being the classic multicultural template, is different. And that goes for Indians/Indian muslims and their adaptability.

Surely that is a point arguing in favor of easier and faster adaptation to cultural quirks and nuances, because your background has ingrained in you the ability to do so?

@raindrop - completely agree. This just opens a door to a dozen other offenses and idioticities(? - new word of the day, class) which the police or any other organization which accepts it any level will have their hands full dealing with.

@pvnc - the latter. the fact that if you forgo temples and other religious capers, you're going to "lose touch with your roots". I mean, if you're insecure enough to feel that way, no one's asked you to stay here, have they?

NB: "You" doesn't refer to You, punk. :D

Raindrop said...

Re. the French, I just don't understand them. Without any speculation on whether or not they're nice people, I can state with reasonable confidence that they can come across as being snobbish and extremely full of themselves. I've had French people in India attemtping to speak to me in French. They don't know me, they don't know I speak French, and I'll be damned if I'm letting them find out that I do. Why would they assume I understand them? Is it just cultural ignorance? And no, this wasn't in Pondicherry.

Zee said...

hmmmm....but it's true. people abroad are constantly trying to hold on to their roots and so go beserk. very sad actually....

Vikram H said...

did u know that there is a tamil-medium school in Malaysia and that there are a LOT of tamilians studying there?

The parents of those kids speak about preserving Indian culture forever.

Thats how hopeless people's thinking could become when deprived of daily doses of 'home'! :)

sinusoidally said...

Am I missing something here? If she believs that her religious sentiments go against shaking hands with the member of opposite sex then let it be. I mean I woulds respect that.

TS said...

*Unless they were closely related*

That pretty much sums up the entire Muslim community of the world yeah? They marry first cousins, afterall!

Zee said...

ts....not true not true!!! not all muslims are strange enough to marry cousins!!!

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@raindrop - absolutely true. I've heard personal experiences of people in the paris metro refusing to speak english to particular groups of people (say, americans) even if they do. But they'd do it in a flash if someone else they _liked_ more came to them for help. But then, from what I hear, Chennai can be quite like that too..

@zee - welcome :) I don't see a link to your blog on your profile anymore! and hehe, yes, well put. holding on to your roots at the cost of going beserk? no thanks.

otoh, do people REALLY have to hold on that tight? it might've been true decades ago, but I don't think it is anymore.

@vikram - hey! thanks for stopping by :)
Really? I didn't know of tamil domination in malaysia hehe. interesting. I haven't heard of anything similar *anywhere* else..

@sinusoidally - yellow! how're you doing? well - the religious sentiments are fine as long as you don't maintain double standards with them right? I mean, on the way to become a police officer, she had to go through things like physical training and hand-combat and learn how to restrain people. Surely you don't suggest that they bent the rules such that she only did those things with minimum physical contact, and ONLY with women?

@TS - I wouldn't go as far as saying that. Its true in certain societies in the middle east - Saudi Arabia being a prime example. In fact, if you've ever heard of the medici family in Italy who also had the same trouble once, where they intermarried over 2 centuries resulting in their fine chiselled feature-bloodline getting watered down to men with almost no chins and other deformities.

Just to make my point about it having being common outside Islam too :)

the wannabe indian punkster said...

New post, new post!

oh and psst, here you go:


Anonymous said...

Just to fuck up the debate-

Have you tried the new Clap your hands album? I found it truly fantastic.

And the new Arcade Fire album has leaked.


whitelight said...

Here you go. Arcade Fire's Neon Bible. I hope the link is still active.

whitelight said...

IMO, Some loud thunder is as good as the first. Start to finish.